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Saturday, 4 May, 2002, 13:01 GMT 14:01 UK
Close shave for Fat Controller
Thomas the Tank Engine event
Controller Keohane's beard was deemed unacceptable
A Beefeater is being forced to shave off his beard so he can continue to be the Fat Controller at a Devon steam railway.

The copyright holders of the Thomas the Tank Engine stories objected to John Keohane's facial hair because in the books the character is clean shaven.

The South Devon Railway at Buckfastleigh was warned last year that if Mr Keohane did not shave he could no longer take part in the "Days out with Thomas".

With the event starting on Saturday Mr Keohane has relented - despite the beard being virtually part of the uniform for his other job as a Beefeater.

John Keohane
Beefeater John Keohane at the tower

Richard Elliot general manager of the railway said: "He's finally agreed to shave his beard off.

"He's going to take a fortnight's holiday and shave off his beard and then grow it back by the time he gets back to work at the tower of London."

Sir Topham Hat was the overbearing Fat Controller who ticks off his "naughty engines" in the well-loved stories.

A British vicar, the late Reverend Wilbert Awdry, first created the characters in 1945 to amuse his son Christopher during a bout of measles.

Click here to go to Devon
See also:

15 Feb 99 | Entertainment
Thomas steams into Hollywood
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